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Exporters lose over $12,000 for every container of bananas contaminated with drugs in Ecuador

As of September 29, 2022, Ecuadorian authorities have already seized 151 tons of illegal drugs, i.e. 20 more than in the same period of 2021. The latest seizure took place when the police found a shipment of narcotics inside a container loaded with boxes of bananas from a trailer that had been abandoned on the Guayaquil-Posorja route after it tipped over.

A large part of the seizures has been carried out in Guayaquil. The banana export sector has been the most affected by drug contamination, as bananas are the most exported product by volume and frequency and nearly 7,000 containers of this product are moved through the ports of the city each week, stated Richard Salazar, the president of the banana export guild.

In addition to the investment in satellite surveillance and in the custody of cargoes through private guards, when a drug seizure occurs, the authorities retain all the cargo as evidence, which ends up damaging the fruit and generating losses to exporters. "No one assumes the cost of the loss. Each container costs $12,000," Salazar stated. "We are concerned because drug trafficking continues and only exporters bear the brunt of this problem, not the ports or the shipping companies."

It should be noted that Guayaquil has 12 private terminals that move 85% of Ecuador's non-oil exports, i.e. some 25 million tons of cargo per year. Reviewing nearly 2.4 million containers a year is a Herculean task, authorities acknowledged.

"Our country ceased to be a gathering center to become a platform for the international distribution of illegal drugs," stated General Giovanni Ponce, the former head of the country's counter-narcotics task force. Unfortunately, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Ecuador is the third country with the largest amount of cocaine seized in the world.




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